Restaurant review

Burnt Orange, Brighton: ‘Delivered on its smoky promise’ – restaurant review | Food

Burnt Orange, 59 Middle Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1AL (01273 929923). Starters £ 4 to £ 10, main courses £ 8 to £ 19, desserts £ 4 to £ 7, wines from £ 22

Brown foods are best. We know it. Brown foods relate to caramelized sugars and the Maillard reaction; they are generous, accentuated and accentuated flavors. They conjure up images of prehistoric campfires and the licking of the flame before the licking of the tongue. So much about Brighton Burnt orange, which opened in June, is calculated to trigger those lustful, crispy, crisp thoughts. The name was given a shade of orange in 1915 and is, according to web sources I have decided to trust, designed to evoke thoughts of gushing flames.

Enter the painfully remodeled Middle Street site, just up the waterfront, and everything is burnt orange. Admire the leather banquettes in grilled tones, the varnished wooden slatted facade of the bar, the stone walls lit with pieces of flint, the paintings in shades of… well, you get the idea. At this point, the presence of a wood-burning oven in the heart of the kitchen is almost obvious.

“Miso glazed, shelled with pomegranate seeds”: roasted eggplant. Photograph: Alex Lake / The Observer

At Burnt Orange there are a lot of burns and blisters, smoke and flames. The menu is generously sprinkled with these words. There are also outbreaks of Persian limes and harissa, candied lemons and wild garlic. He vibrates with an apparent eagerness to display trendy credentials. Because the site is only a few doors down from where Skint Records had their offices, they even asked Norman Cook, AKA Fat Boy Slim, to “clean up” the music.

At this point, I clench my fists and feel compelled to repeat a rant. Curate is not another word for “choosing”, although those bearded men who write craft beer menus might wish it otherwise. Cook didn’t organize anything. He chose a few tunes.

'Fried to crisp': lamb shoulder 'cigar'.
‘Fried to crisp’: shoulder of lamb ‘cigars’. Photograph: Alex Lake / The Observer

Oh look. I seem to be gathering the evidence for the prosecution. What keeps Burnt Orange from being an annoying trend-riding exercise is the food. The intricate descriptions of the dishes and this wood-fired oven keep their promise of heat bubbles. Considering the team behind, led by skilled restaurateur Razak Helalat, this is not surprising. They know what they are doing. They also have the Salt Room, housed in an outcrop of the dismal Hilton Metropole on the front. There, among many good things, I was served an expertly flame-grilled whole fish, which showed a clear understanding of the power of direct and indirect heat. Elsewhere in Brighton (and more recently in London) they have the Coal shed where everything is, as the name suggests, cooked over hot coals.

Now it’s all about the impact of smoldering wood. Among the starters of Burnt Orange, there is a black stone bass crudo. There’s grilled Sussex halloumi, as well as thermoformed sardines with fried bread and anchovy cream. The shoulder of lamb was smoked for a long time until it was on the verge of breaking, then grated, made into “cigars” wrapped in fat and fried until crisp. On the side is a spoonful of refreshing yogurt. It’s a lot of butcher’s lanolin textures and flavors that make up for each other. Spicy squid fritti, under a generous fall of sliced ​​pepper leaves, accompanied by a daffodil-colored candied lemon aioli. The thinnest slices of crumbly toast are stacked with salted cherries, tomatoes, and a tumble of buffalo stracciatella, that milky, fetal, stretched curd cheese. This is a sofa designed by someone who has never spilled food on their shirt. It’s good to eat: fresh and curiously purifying in the midst of all the turning caramels. It’s just a total bugger to put in your mouth, without dishonoring yourself. I dishonor myself.

“Mashed with salted cherries”: stracciatella on toast.
“Mashed with salted cherries”: stracciatella on toast. Photograph: Alex Lake / The Observer

The main courses are where the real action is. A thick baking sheet of eggplant dragged into the oven until it reached a skin-smoothing baba ganoush, and was placed on a puddle of sour cream. It’s glazed with miso, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and finally, for texture and laughs, sprinkled generously with fried onions. Most things should be. A slice of sirloin steak is marinated in fermented chili for flavor rather than brow heat, then cooked over a wood fire and topped with fondant Tropea onions, capers and a drizzle of juice.

'It's very sweet.  It's just not shawarma ': pork' shawarma '.
‘It’s very sweet. It’s just not shawarma ‘: pork’ shawarma ‘. Photograph: Alex Lake / The Observer

There is also something described as a pork shawarma, which makes me frown. I associate shawarma, an Arabic word, with the usually Muslim Middle East and not eating pork. Then, I get in touch with Claudia Roden, the great expert in gastronomy in the region. In Greece and Cyprus, she says, there is a kind of doner using sliced ​​pork called shawarma. Except here, they serve cubes of pork belly heavily in sauce. I send a photo and Roden identifies it as a souvlaki. Words used in a menu like this matter. They should help you understand what you are ordering. These do not. Still, the cuts of meat are pleasantly soft and ablaze in the heat to a sticky black caramel. For light against shade, there is a cheerful salad of grated fennel. It’s all very nice. It’s just not a shawarma.

The short dessert menu is another of those designed for ease of service. There is a well-made lemon pie because, at the moment, offering one is apparently a condition of getting a restaurant license. Of course, there is a scoop of chocolate mousse. This one is accompanied by sweet macadamias and cherries. The real eye-catcher is their superb pistachio ice cream, with drops of chocolate and fresh mint. Well done. Have that. Prices are steep, with most dishes in single digits and only a few among teenagers. Or you can pay £ 35 a head and have them throw you half the menu.

'This is accompanied by sweet macadamias': chocolate mousse.
‘This is accompanied by sweet macadamias’: chocolate mousse. Photograph: Alex Lake / The Observer

On a hot weekday for lunch, Norman Cook’s pick of the best pieces will ricochet vigorously off any hard surface in a way that will make space difficult for some. Restaurants tend to be set up by younger people who haven’t yet gone through the sensory ravages of age. One day it will be their turn. Still, the service goes at a cheerful pace, and there’s a good show on stage from the show kitchen. A quick note on alcohol. Among the cocktails is a concoction of Grand Marnier, vermouth, bourbon and cherries called Bitter Untwisted. It probably should be the house drink of the Restaurant Critics member’s club, if anyone ever opens up and trust me, they never will.

New bites

In a crowded market, the Delicious cookbook, which is designed to be personalized, looks fun. It starts with a choice of cover, the ability to put the recipient’s name in the title, and a dedication inside. Then there are a dozen recipe sections – Awesome Main Dishes, Wonderful and Meatless, Breathtaking Desserts, and more. – from which you choose six, before swapping the recipes according to your tastes. The shellfish section includes baked eggs with crab and cayenne pepper, while for the meatless there’s a tomato, thyme, and ricotta pie. It costs £ 21.99 for the paperback and £ 24.99 for the hardcover.

Five years after being forced to close their original restaurant in London’s Shoreditch, the team behind Mexican Santo Remedio, near London Bridge, are returning to the region with a new business. Santo Remedio Taqueria will open in September. It will feature a changing list of monthly specials and a take-out hatch “serving an array of favorite Mexican street food.” Visit

The South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex has appointed Chef Greg Clarke to lead their Past restaurant for the next six months. Clarke, who has spent time at Midsummer House in Cambridge and Ledbury in London on her CV, will offer a £ 50 five-course lunch menu and an eight-course dinner menu for £ 95. Dishes will include a mushroom tart with Baron Bigod and blackberry leaf, and roasted mallard with heart ragù.

Email Jay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ jayrayner1

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